There are two in-game concepts called Poise.

  • The player has the stat Poise, which is obtained from Armor, the Lothric Knight Long Spear, Yhorm's Greatshield and the Wolf Ring.
  • And the hidden value "poise health" that determines when your "hyperarmor frames" are interrupted.
    The visible stat Poise acts as a defense stat for this poise health, reducing how much poise damage is inflicted by enemy attacks.

The stagger resistance given by the skills Unfaltering PrayerPerseverance, Stone Flesh, and the pyromancy Iron Flesh are unaffected by your Poise stat. These have their own independent "poise health". The Great Hammer version of Perseverance, however, does activate the player's poise.

 

 The ability to withstand attacks without breaking form 

How Poise Works

In a nutshell, you are only able to resist stagger during "hyperarmor" frames, and your Poise stat determines how many attacks you can take before you can be staggered out of hyperarmor frames. Because hyperarmor frames are not fully uninterruptible and use Poise to determine whether or not you can be interrupted, it would be more accurate to call them "active poise". In the game's code, the supposedly deactivated value for poise is in fact activated during animations with active poise.

All characters using the player model, including the player character, most NPCs, and non-player invaders, have a hidden poise health of 100. All attacks that hit the character will reduce this value, and when the value reaches 0 the character will be staggered regardless of whether or not they are in the middle of an attack with poise frames. The stat Poise will reduce how much poise damage a weapon inflicts to this poise health, by a percentage equal to the amount of Poise. Your Poise stat is always passively reducing incoming poise damage, whether or not you are using an attack with active poise. However, you are only able to resist stagger during active poise, and at any other time you can be staggered regardless of how much poise health you have left.

Furthermore, all attacks and actions with active poise will give a multiplier to your current poise health (usually negative), allowing you to take more or fewer hits before being staggered. The modifiers for normal R1 and R2 attacks on weapons with active poise were greatly reduced in the 1.08 patch, to the point where characters need very high poise to resist stagger from one or two attacks now. However, as of the 1.08 patch, attacks with active poise will now automatically refresh your poise health back to 80% of full after modifiers. For example, if you are using a Greataxe weapon (maximum poise health for R1 is 27) and you have 0.1 poise health before the attack, then as soon as your attack starts your poise will instantly reset to 21.6.  What this means is you can now resist stagger from one or two attacks every time you attack, which allows tanky, high poise builds to play much more aggressively. Weapon arts with active poise have much higher modifiers than normal attacks do, being anywhere from 0.30 to 2.00 vs 0.10 to 0.27, and weapon arts will refresh your poise health back to 100% of full instead of 80%. Attacks that are blocked by a shield do not reduce your poise health at all.

Your poise health does not regenerate, but will immediately refresh back to 100% every 30 seconds or when it's reduced to 0, whichever comes first. In addition, the 1.08 patch made it so that your poise health resets to 80% of full whenever you use a normal attack with active poise and to 100% of its full value whenever you use a weapon art with active poise.

To use poise, you need to know these things: how much poise damage your opponent's attacks deal, what the poise health of your attacks is, and how much Poise from armor you need to reduce your opponent's poise damage far enough to not drop your poise health to zero. In addition, since your poise health resets back to 80% with every normal attack, it would also be helpful to have enough poise so that 20.01% of your poise health is left over, as this will allow you to resist stagger through your opponent's attack every time you attack. For weapons that only have active poise during their weapon arts, this is less important since weapon arts reset poise health back to 100% instead of 80%.

Active poise is found on certain weapon attacks including, but not limited to, Ultra Greatsword, Greathammer, and Greataxe R1s, Greatsword two-handed R1s, fully charged R2 attacks, most Weapon Skills, and the medium and heavy rolls. The 1.08 patch also gave active poise to two-handed Hammer attacks. Testing is still ongoing to determine which attacks have poise frames and what their poise multipliers are.

Sources:

https://www.reddit.com/r/darksouls3/comments/4vnan9/how_poise_works/

https://www.reddit.com/r/darksouls3/comments/58ru20/how_poise_works_in_108/

https://www.reddit.com/r/darksouls3/comments/58ppik/hard_data_about_poise/

 

Stat Poise Information

Each piece of armor has a Poise rating, and your total Poise is the sum of each of your armor pieces. Naked characters have 0 Poise. In general, wearing heavier or more protective armor increases Poise.

As of patch 1.07. the Poise formula seems to reduce the effects of poise for armor and rings added once the player has any poise. Every piece added that increases poise will be subjected to the following formula:

    

 

So if adding the Wolf Ring (12.5 poise) on a character with 10 poise:

Weapons & Poise Damage

Information via Gamefaqs (Some values were changed in the 1.08 patch and may no longer be accurate. They will be updated as soon as the new values are found.)

 Trivia

For a long time, it was believed that the poise stat either didn't work or was intentionally disabled on release, due to a player finding a value in the game's code that determined whether or not poise was active and seeing that the value was 'off' by default. It was later discovered by other people that this value was only turned on during what was thought to be hyperarmor frames at the time, and that poise damage is constantly being calculated at all times but you are only able to resist stagger during attacks or actions with hyperarmor frames.

Boulder Heave is unique among spells in that it also inflicts poise damage. If an opponent is struck by the debris, it will deal a large amount of poise damage. However, spells and skills that cause knockdown do not take poise into account.

Enemies that do not use the player model, such as Darkwraiths, Silver Knights, and Black Knights, do not follow the same rules for poise that the player character and NPCs do.




    • Anonymous

      04 Mar 2019 22:22  

      can they rename this already as its not poise. ds3 does not have poise. it has hyperarmor and a little hyper armor shield. thats it. i want my poise back. used to love rocking havel and powering through almost any attack. poor decision to remove poise.

      • Anonymous

        05 Feb 2019 00:05  

        I am among a small set of people that is actually affected by poise in DS3. It has a very narrow use, and it is an uncommon playstyle that uses it. For lack of a better explanation, Poise determines how well you can turtle poke during an enemy attack. That is, attack while blocking with a shield simultaneously. In this case literally blocking the attack while yours is going out. Now, how do I know this? I figured this out very early on in the game. I am typically a greatshield/spear user, but figuring out that poise functioned nothing like it did in the previous games reinforced my playstyle since I want to attack while being attacked and not be punished for it. Right, so, moving on. I figured "well*****, I can just wear light armor and roll around like an idiot if I can just hide behind my shield with my spear." but you can **NOT** do that. See, poise affects principally whether you will be staggered out of an attack while hiding behind a shield or not. The higher the poise, the bigger the poise damage you can take before you're staggered out of the attack. More on that point, you can't freely turtle poke in DS3, it does cause damage through your shield if you do it simultaneously. It's much less than you'd take otherwise, but you still take damage while doing it. Then I started putting the pieces together. Strongest greatshield in the game (give or take?) Yhorm's, and it increases poise. The one weapon in the game that increases poise? Lothric Knight long spear. Conclusion? It's for turtle poking, and basically nothing else.

        • Anonymous

          09 Jan 2019 05:39  

          TL;DR - only Hyper Armor activates Poise. That means if you're performing actions that have 0 hyper armor, you will get staggered no matter what you do. Hyper Armor is the***** that turns Poise ON. It's not like DS1 Poise that just made you less likely to be staggered by default. In DS3, you need to use your actions with hyper armor frames in order to make that poise do it's job. Besides, the in-game poise stat just refers to reduced poise damage received (percentage %) so if you have 35.4 poise it means 35.4% reduced poise damage received, which means, while you have hyper armor and you're trading hits with your opponent, it's very likely the one with less poise is the one that it's going to get interrupted/staggered first since it's getting his "poise health" hidden bar destroyed much faster. But there is still a couple of stuff that needs more testing...

          • Anonymous

            15 Dec 2018 01:27  

            40+ poise and using a weapon that not only many claim has hyperarmor but also Perseverance. Still staggered in any and all attack animations for the weapon. And if you are curious as to what weapon it is vordt's greathammer. And yes before coming here to post about poise just not working i checked through forums and many of them claim that vordt's greathammer has hyperarmor and according to this page itself greathammers are among things with active poise but i sure as hell don't notice a difference wether my poise is 40+ or 10 and under while using weapons claiming to have active poise here and in the comments.

            • Anonymous

              02 Nov 2018 16:03  

              I wish poise was something more people actually understood. In DS3, poise acts to increase your ability to continue through your combo via hyper armor. So an example, if I'm using the Greatsword and I'm walking through one of its many combos and my opponents start hitting me with a sword, my poise determines how many of those hits it takes for my guy to stop walking through the combo. This is absolutely ESSENTIAL for strength builds. I always cosplay as Guts from Berserk and using the greatsword is impossible without a decent amount of poise, with my armor (which is fashion souls) and wolf ring +3, I can hyper armor through my combo against almost all PvP opponent's and most bosses. Invasions become a piece of cake when you know what to do with those hyper armor frames and the threshold it takes to plow through them.

              • Anonymous

                18 Oct 2018 12:47  

                I think i actually knows why miyazaki nerfed ds3 poise. I mean, just imagine havels running with dark sword plus real poise, this would outdamage any kind of ugs/magic and plop

                • Anonymous

                  16 Oct 2018 04:33  

                  I feel like it would have been better if like. Getting hit by a super big weapon wouldn’t ALWAYS ensure a second hit. It really puts the entire game in favor of STR builds, since most DEX weapons can’t hold another player still for more than a single hit (except Farron GS or Carthus Curved GS, but those are still heavy weapons). Just once, I want to have fun with a weapon like the Crow Talons or maybe even a whip, but their short range coupled with their low stagger really reduces the odds of success against a longer ranged ultra. Balanced, my ass.

                  • Anonymous

                    01 Oct 2018 14:22  

                    Simply put, poise just prevents your attacks from being interrupted. The reason for this being a mystery for so long? People were over acclimated to the previous mechanics, and thought it'd apply the same in this game; a psychological glitch resulting from associative memory, and hardwired expectations that result in an inflexible ability to readapt. Previously, it just prevented any flinching regardless of whether you were standing, moving or attacking. And, considering the difficultly of Dark Souls, it was very important to memorize small mechanics to the point of instinct. Naturally, still packing the Havel's myself for the poise. But also making sure to not just stand still. Remember, only when your weapon starts swinging forward will it activate. And even then, it may be broken if a sufficiently powerful weapon hits.

                    • Anonymous

                      16 Sep 2018 17:09  

                      poise does not work unless you are a black knight AI, i was wearing full havel armor and got pancaked to the ground by a silver knight with a straight sword

                      • Anonymous

                        16 Sep 2018 03:15  

                        On one hand, I think the Poise system makes heavy weapons completely viable. Rather than having someone toggle escape or Poise BS your R1. But on another I find it...unfinished? uninspired? SS stunning you for combos as well as curved swords is too silly IMO. I think if they weren't a guaranteed 2 hit combo it would be more adjusted. You could say, oh but just parry it! With the lag in this game that is way too prevalent? I don't think so. So that leaves us with damage right? Well with the elemental infusion patch...SS and even curved swords can have over 500 AR and do around 450-500+ damage with two R1s. If you follow the SS up with an R2 or a curved sword with an R1. That damage can go to be around 600-700. Which is the same damage as two R1s of an ultra weapon but being WAY easier to land on something. I think it's just one problem on top of another. Then in invasions you have instances where you get infinitely stunlocked. You get hit by one person while the other person hits you then then the initial R1 follow up. Or you get hit by a Crystal Soul Spear/CBV that does like 600-900 damage and that can combo into another R1 for even 1100 to 1400 damage. That can kill ANY player in a matter of seconds. My point is. I think the Poise system can work if it was heavily adjusted. We don't need a DS1-tier Poise system. I think if they made it to where light weapons could only stun you once and not twice. While having heavier weapons keep their 2 hit combos...all would be well. Ofc I am just brainstorming, they aren't going to fix anything. But as I said it's just one problem on top of another. At this point you just have to accept the unbalance this game offers and just...enjoy it for what it is. But I don't think anyone can argue that the Poise system in this game wasn't unfinished or uninspired.

                        • Anonymous

                          29 Aug 2018 23:03  

                          One of those lines has me confused. It says normal attacks reset your poise back to 80%. This includes weapons whose normal R1/R2 attacks *don't* activate poise?

                          • Anonymous

                            29 Aug 2018 03:45  

                            DS1's poise was broken: having fat-armor players walking through your combo to just backstab you was bad, and it turned into Smough/Havel-armored players circling each other for eternity as the only viable way to PVP consistently. This new method could've been a brilliant fix, except for that part: "Active poise is found on certain weapon attacks including, but not limited to, Ultra Greatsword, Greathammer, and Greataxe R1s, Greatsword two-handed R1s, fully charged R2 attacks, most Weapon Skills, and the medium and heavy rolls." and this part: "Enemies that do not use the player model, such as Darkwraiths, Silver Knights, and Black Knights, do not follow the same rules for poise that the player character and NPCs do." ^So the same players who rocked full Havel's Set and a giant club in DS1 will now be wearing loincloths and a giant club in DS3. Because now you can't know for sure if the weapon you're using will have any effect unless it's huge. Double that with enemies who seem to have an infinite invisible poise meter, this game breaks a rule I criticized the second game for; the player and the enemies follow the same constraints. This entire mechanic—one that decides who lives and dies in an encounter—favors one kind of build, which is counterintuitive to an RPG, especially at the end of a trilogy.

                            • 28 Jul 2018 15:06  

                              Since someone mentioned getting stunned by rats at 40+ poise, out of curiosity I went and did some testing myself with the following equipment: Morne's Helm along with all three other pieces of Cathedral Knight set, Wolf Ring and Lothric Knight Spear, totaling 52.75 poise. I tried the rats in the underground area of the Undead Settlement, and the results are as follows: I was up against two of them, and no matter what action I tried - landing a hit, drinking an Estus or casting a spell - if I was caught midway and hit, every such hit I took was a guaranteed stagger, one hundred percent of the time. That's right, every single action I attempted ended up interrupted while wearing four of the heaviest armor pieces in the game and a*****load of poise, by no less than sewer rats. I should mention that I'm on my first New Game+, so I don't know if that has any effect on poise damage, but still, sheesh, we're talking friggin' rats here! So you can either conclude that poise in this game is horribly bugged and therefore is indeed an absolutely useless feature (which is clearly the worst that could happen), or that it was never meant to work the traditional way, i.e., the heavier your armor, the less likely you'll stagger. In any case, at this point there's really nothing anyone can do about it, and personally I don't like either (I can't imagine why they had to tamper with something that used to work so well before) but I try not get too steamed about it and enjoy the game as it is*****, seriously folks, totally unrelated, but this can't possibly be worse than not having Bloodborne on PC. Thanks a lot, From; and go ***** yourself, Sony.

                              • Anonymous

                                17 May 2018 12:32  

                                Let’s settle this. Poise in ds3 is there, works perfectly fine, but people don’t like how it works. Happen now?

                                • 13 May 2018 18:18  

                                  is it so hard to understand that to make the combat faster poise had to be altered to always stagger because even big weapons attacks come very fast anyways go play dark souls 1 and youll understand what i mean its just another type of combat

                                  • Anonymous

                                    29 Apr 2018 12:29  

                                    I still laugh when people try to justify the lazy Poise implementation in this game. No amount of explanation can justify a 3 foot long thin piece of stainless steel staggering someone who is clad in Steel. "But Poise in Dark Souls was broken!" How so? Even with 61 poise you can only poise through max two enemy attacks unless they are hollows. Even then it's 4 to 5 attacks which are flurries. Most bosses will do infinite Poise damage or will trigger a knockdown no matter the Poise value. So stacking 161 Poise against bosses like Manus is pretty useless. Not to mention getting that amount of Poise you HAD to sacrifice stats. Hell, it takes what, 92 Endurance to get the ideal 61 Poise breakpoint without Wolf Ring. In PvP unless you are a braindead player who mashes R1 against someone with more than 53 Poise. It's impossible to get Poise backstabbed. Nonetheless if you were good at spacing you didn't have to worry about someones Poise. Then there are kicks that are quick and do infinite poise damage which is the literal counter to strafe backstabs unless they perfect block. Seems people with these complaints are inexperienced and fail to improve at the game so they whine. Now we have this braindead R1 friendly Poise system. That's what happens when you cater to the idiotic masses. :-)
                                    The Remaster will be fun. I can not wait for the salty DS3/BB players whining because they can't improve or learn at the game.

                                    • Anonymous

                                      22 Mar 2018 12:49  

                                      This system is fine, really. I just wish that items that granted poise did as advertised instead of stacking multiplicatively, same for armor. As it is now, if you want to trade with other big weapons with, say, an UGS, you pretty much are required to wear Wolf Ring + 3 and at least one piece of Havel's set. If poise was flat stacking from armor and items that give poise bonuses then it would give poise builds a wider variety of armor to wear.

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